Tiff Sonnier

Tiff Sonnier

Modified & Updated: 09 Sep 2023

Source: Snapshot.canon-asia.com

The Kandy Esala Perahera is one of the grandest and most spectacular events held in Sri Lanka. It is a vibrant cultural celebration that takes place in the city of Kandy, attracting thousands of visitors from around the world. This annual festival is held in the month of Esala (July or August) and lasts for ten days, culminating in a magnificent procession known as the Perahera. The Perahera showcases the rich cultural heritage of Sri Lanka, featuring beautifully adorned elephants, traditional dancers, fire performers, musicians, and religious ceremonies.

In this article, we will explore 16 fascinating facts about the Kandy Esala Perahera, shedding light on the history, significance, and various elements that make this event truly remarkable. From the origins of the festival to the intricate rituals performed during the procession, get ready to immerse yourself in the captivating world of the Kandy Esala Perahera.

Table of Contents

The Kandy Esala Perahera is a grand religious and cultural festival celebrated in Sri Lanka.

Every year, thousands of devotees and tourists flock to the city of Kandy to witness this spectacular event.

The festival takes place in the month of Esala (July/August) according to the lunar calendar.

It is believed to commemorate the first teaching given by Gautama Buddha, after he attained enlightenment.

The procession showcases a majestic parade of beautifully adorned elephants.

These gentle giants are intricately decorated with colorful garments, jewels, and lights, creating a mesmerizing sight for spectators.

The procession is led by the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha, which is kept in the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.

Considered the most important religious artifact in Sri Lanka, the tooth relic is believed to bring good fortune and prosperity to the country and its people.

The Esala Perahera lasts for 10 days, with each night showcasing a different segment of the procession.

Each night, the streets of Kandy come alive with the sounds of drums, traditional music, and chants.

Fire dancers, whip crackers, and acrobats are also part of the vibrant procession.

These skilled performers add an element of excitement and thrill to the festivities.

The Kumbal Perahera is the first five nights of the festival, where the procession is relatively smaller in scale.

It serves as a warm-up to the main event, building anticipation and excitement.

The Randoli Perahera is the grand finale where the procession reaches its peak.

This is the night when the streets are filled with a multitude of performers, torchbearers, and extravagant floats.

The festival is not only a religious event but also a celebration of Sri Lankan culture and heritage.

It provides a platform for artists, musicians, and dancers to showcase their talents.

The Esala Perahera attracts visitors from all over the world, making it a major tourist attraction in Sri Lanka.

Hotels and guesthouses in Kandy are often fully booked during this time, so it is advisable to make reservations in advance.

During the festival, devotees participate in various religious rituals and ceremonies.

These rituals are believed to bring blessings and protection to those who take part.

The streets of Kandy are beautifully decorated with colorful lights, creating a magical ambiance.

It adds an enchanting touch to the entire festival, making it a visual spectacle.

Food stalls are set up along the procession route, offering a variety of traditional Sri Lankan delicacies.

Visitors can indulge in mouth-watering dishes such as hoppers, kottu roti, and spicy curries.

The Kandy Esala Perahera has a history dating back to the 3rd century BCE.

It has withstood the test of time, remaining a significant cultural event in Sri Lanka.

As part of their devotion, some devotees undertake acts of self-mortification during the procession.

These acts include walking barefoot on hot coals, carrying heavy burdens, or piercing their bodies with skewers.

The festival concludes with the Day Perahera, a ceremony where water is taken from the Mahaweli River in a golden casket and offered to the sacred tooth relic.

It symbolizes the end of the procession and marks the successful completion of the Esala Perahera.

Experience the grandeur and splendor of the Kandy Esala Perahera, a festival that encapsulates the vibrant culture and religious traditions of Sri Lanka.


Kandy Esala Perahera is a mesmerizing event that showcases the rich cultural heritage and deep religious traditions of Sri Lanka. With its vibrant processions, stunning performances, and sacred rituals, it has become an iconic event that attracts both locals and tourists from around the world.

From the majestic tuskers to the dazzling costumes, the Perahera offers a sensory feast for all who witness it. The rhythmic beats of drums, the enchanting melodies of flutes, and the hypnotic dance movements create an atmosphere that is both captivating and spiritual.

As one of the oldest and grandest festivals in Sri Lanka, Kandy Esala Perahera holds significant religious importance for Buddhists. It is a time of devotion, prayer, and celebration, as well as a way to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha.

Whether you are a culture enthusiast, a history lover, or simply curious about different traditions, experiencing the Kandy Esala Perahera is an unforgettable journey into the heart and soul of Sri Lanka.


1. What is Kandy Esala Perahera?
Kandy Esala Perahera is a grand annual festival celebrated in Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is a religious and cultural event that showcases elaborate processions, traditional performances, and sacred rituals.

2. When does Kandy Esala Perahera take place?
Kandy Esala Perahera usually takes place in the month of July or August, during the full moon of Esala according to the Buddhist lunar calendar.

3. What is the significance of Kandy Esala Perahera?
The festival holds great religious importance for Buddhists as it is dedicated to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha, which is housed in the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. It is believed that the Perahera brings blessings and protection to the people.

4. What can I expect to see during the Perahera?
During Kandy Esala Perahera, you can witness a grand procession of whip crackers, flag bearers, fire dancers, drummers, dancers, and beautifully decorated elephants. It also includes sacred rituals and offerings to the sacred relic.

5. How long does the Perahera last?
The Kandy Esala Perahera spans over 10 consecutive nights, with the final night known as the Randoli Perahera, where the procession reaches its grandest and most extravagant form.

6. Can tourists attend the Kandy Esala Perahera?
Yes, tourists are welcome to witness and participate in the Kandy Esala Perahera. It is a major tourist attraction in Sri Lanka, and ample arrangements are made to accommodate visitors.

7. How can I find out the exact dates of Kandy Esala Perahera?
The dates of the Kandy Esala Perahera may vary from year to year. It is best to check with local travel agencies, the Sri Lankan Tourism Board, or the website of the Temple of the Tooth for the exact dates and schedule.

8. Are there any specific dress codes or etiquette to follow during the Perahera?
It is advisable to dress modestly and respectfully during the Perahera. Wearing comfortable shoes is recommended as the event involves walking or standing for long periods of time. It is also important to maintain decorum and not disrupt the religious ceremonies.